October 25, 2016

K-Drama Love: Descendants of the Sun

It’s hard not to love Descendants of the Sun. This pre-produced K-Drama had been a ratings juggernaut in Korea from the moment it premiered earlier this year. Primarily marketed as a love story between a doctor and a soldier, it also offers viewers a glimpse into the lives of Korean first responders. I wasn’t initially sold on the premise but it gradually changed when I saw the plot unfold on-screen. So if you’re looking for a K-drama to binge-watch on your next sleepover, this comes highly recommended by yours truly for the following reasons:

The Song-Song couple’s chemistry is off the charts!

Song Hye Kyo’s ethereal beauty is incomparable. The woman looks like she hasn’t aged since Autumn in my Heart! You’d never realize there’s a 4-year age gap between her and the perpetually boyish Song Joong Ki. Together, their portrayals of Yoo Si Jin and Kang Mo Yeon made DotS one of the more – if not the most – memorable dramas of 2016. So convincing were they that rumors began floating, as early as the first half of the series, that these two were in fact dating in real-life.

What love triangle?

A drama isn’t complete without a third party to ruin the main couple. Thankfully, Kim Eun Sook has slowly mastered the art of developing a primary and secondary couple in her dramas devoid of such problem. What they’re faced instead are circumstances, whether personal or professional, that would test their mettle as a couple.

Breathtaking cinematography.

How can you not appreciate anything that is shot (partly) in Greece? The picturesque city masqueraded for some scenes from the fictional country of Urk and everything was just breathtakingly postcard worthy.

No unnecessary plot extensions.

The drama is pre-produced which means all the scenes have been shot and edited accordingly months prior to its airing. This is quite a gamble in an industry known for its grueling filming hours so I’m happy DotS is setting a (positive) precedent. The upside of having canned episodes is that no unnecessary plot fillers are inserted just to keep up with the viewers’ interests.

Escapism-drama at its finest.

Who cares if Si Jin jumped through a window and walked like it wasn’t (more than) a ten-feet drop to the ground? Or that Mo Yeon survived a vehicular fall over the cliff? DotS had a lot of WTH moments which were both amusing and cringe-worthy. But heck, this is why it’s a drama after all! People watch to momentarily escape reality even for just an hour each day.

Thankfully, the finale veered away from those spoilers popping all over the internet. My sister was ready to discard all 15 episodes should the ending prove to be less than satisfactory. As Chi Hoon said, isn’t it awesome that after all they’ve been through everyone got their happy ending?

October 23, 2016

Flick Pick: A la Mala

My sister has this knack for discovering movies I’ve never even heard of. It’s a good thing she has taste because majority of them turn out to be enjoyable. One such movie she recommended recently was the Mexican romantic-comedy A la Mala.

Released in 2015, it tells the story of a young woman who accidentally made a lucrative career out of testing a guy’s fidelity towards his partner. The catch? She never falls in love with them. It was through word-of-mouth that Maria Laura’s (a.k.a. Mala) talent reached the ears of her producer who then offered her a contract in exchange for seducing her producer's ex-boyfriend and dumping him afterwards. What starts out as a business-only relationship for her turns complicated when finds herself falling in love with her target.

Aside from a great OST (check out the group Motel on Youtube!), the movie works because of the sizzling chemistry between its lead stars. Aislinn Derbez and Mauricio Ochmann look so good together onscreen you’d find yourself smiling as their characters dance around their feelings for each other. They must have felt the spark as well because they are now a couple in real-life. IKR? Too much pretty!

So if you’re up for a break from the usual Hollywood stuff, you might want to give this movie a chance. It’s full of fluff in a good way.

All photos from Google. No copyright infringement intended.

October 22, 2016

Major 80’s feels.

When we ran out of TV shows to binge-watch last year, us lot decided on some major throwback and downloaded movies from the 80's. Oh we had so much fun nitpicking what we loved and disliked about each movie we finished! To wit, these are what we’ve seen so far: Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, Some Kind of Wonderful, Can’t Buy Me Love, Say Anything, Mannequin and Vision Quest — all feel good movies that had me thinking how fun it must’ve been to be a teenager during those years. But nah, I still love my generation. Haha!

Some funny realizations on my end:

I discovered Jake Ryan three decades too late! I used to think Eric Stoltz was the most handsome John Hughes leading man ever. But lo and behold, Michael Schoeffling changed all that when I saw him in Sixteen Candles. If a guy that perfect existed during my high school years and I had the slightest interaction with him... I’d probably faint! Sadly, Schoeffling has since retired from Hollywood and has gone unphotographed for almost 25 years. To quote one article on the web — we never really saw Jake Ryan get old.

Those Andrew McCarthy dimples are to-die for! He ranks second to Schoeffling in my list of dream guys from the 80’s and I just wanted to hug him while watching St. Elmo’s Fire. Heck, he even made Mannequin tolerable for me despite its campy storyline!

You never really needed a make-over to snag the hottest guy in school. Molly Ringwald’s characters may have been a geek by today’s standards but her winning personality attracted the attention of guys she fancied. How’s that for unexplained charm, huh?

No one was necessarily pure evil during those days. Just people with misguided affections. And the cheerleader who suddenly changes her attitude overnight and falls for the geek? Yeah... only in John Hughes’ films.

So what’s on your list of favorite 80’s movies?

October 21, 2016

The Weekend That Was #Fab5minus1PagodaSunday.

The last day of my weekend with friends that June weekend was supposed to have been spent canyoneering down south. I begged off at the last minute, not that I’m a wuss or anything. But fate had other plans as the provincial government issued a suspension order for all canyoneering activities covering the date they were supposed to be there. So itinerary was revised stat. What nearby destinations could possibly combine our love for food, photo opportunities and endless chats without breaking the bank?

First Stop: Plantation Bay’s Streetfood Buffet

Kilimanjaro Restaurant’s buffet spread that noon reminded me of those Sunday lunches you’d have with family in the province. There was pork barbecue, grilled squid, kinilaw, roasted chicken and shrimp okoy among others. A halo-halo station was also set-up as well as a dessert section featuring minatamis na saging at kamote, masi and pichi2x. The downside? Drinks aren’t included in the hefty P750/pax cost of the buffet. But I suppose you’re also paying for the ambiance, huh?

The next half hour (after an almost two hour lunch) was spent taking photos all over the resort. Times like these I wish my DSLR was still in working condition. Nothing beats high-res photos when you’re in a picture perfect location.

October 14, 2016

The past few weeks in a nutshell.

How is it that we're in mid-October already? September flew by so quickly I barely even noticed the month had already ended. The plus side? My TV shows are back! We're juggling fifteen shows at most each week so there's always something to look forward to after work.

Last month marked the first time I was able to join a Creatives team dinner which doubled as despedida party for the team's art director who was migrating to Canada. Now that I'm older, I am getting better at handling office goodbyes.  

I've also reconnected with my grade school friends and we caught up over dinner one weekend. With conflicting work schedules like ours, it was a miracle we actually agreed on a date where everyone was available. It made me realize I am too old for late nights these days. Seriously, my eyes drop when it's half-past midnight.

My biggest discovery, however, is this glorious breakfast food called Chorizo Bungkag (or Chorizong Hubad). Our neighbor gave us a pack for breakfast and it has set the bar so high in terms of any chorizo/longganisa I'll be having in the future. Friends who are visiting Dumaguete (or Bacolod), you now know what to get me for pasalubong.

Lastly, how rewarding is it to finally finish a book after what seems like forever? I started reading The Inn at Eagle Point shortly after Chesapeake Shores premiered primarily because I wanted to spot the changes they did for the adaptation. Boy, it was a lot! I'll have a detailed review posted for it separately but if you must know, the book is very endearing in a Korean weekly drama-like kind of way. Now I'm on the second book, Flowers on Main, and it's playing out like a typical Hallmark movie. My goal is to eventually finish all of the Chesapeake Shores novels by Sherryl Woods before the year ends. Achievable? Hmmm, we'll see.